All Natural Cauldron
Published Feb 20, 2011"I can't stand over-processing," asserts Jason Decay, bassist/vocalist for Toronto-based New Wave of British Heavy Metal-inspired trio Cauldron. "A lot of records have the life sucked out of them. Why would we want to sound like that?" Many bands pride themselves on the purity of a performance; Cauldron demand it. Ablaze with searing solos, cultivated confidence and overriding virulence, sophomore full-length Burning Fortune features nary a flat note. It's almost inconceivable that it could be entirely natural yet thanks the right inspiration and ample time, they're proud of its absolute lack of manipulation. "[Recording live] is how our favourite records were made and how we want to make records," adds guitarist Ian Chains. "There's a certain amount of pride to it."
What sort of anticipation do you feel around release/acceptance of your official sophomore album?
Jason Decay: We're excited. We made an album that we're really proud of and I think it has a lot of potential. There has been a really good reaction to it so far from the label and the press, which is nice. Hopefully everything works out and we can get this thing going. Either way, we're left with a record I can live with.
Ian Chains: The people who liked the last album are going to like this one even more. The second album's the most important as they say and we put all our effort into it. There's nothing else for us to do but sit around nervously sipping Dab's until it's out.
There's an improved sense of self-assurance and cohesion on this album.
Chains: We know what we didn't like about the previous recording and made an effort to fix it.
Decay: We just had more time to write this one, demo it, rehearse it as a band and to record it. All that combined with knowing what you're going for really makes a difference, I guess.
What gave you more time to record as compared to Chained? Wouldn't that one would be more open time-wise since there were no expectations.
Chains: It all comes down to money. We had all the time in the world back then but we were poor. Now, with Earache backing the recording, we've got deadlines but enough funding to not rush the recording process. We're still poor, though.
Decay: We recorded Chained... on our own dime before we signed with Earache. We were borrowing money off friends. We tried to record a full length record in like, five days, so we really squeezed it in. Earache came in and re-mixed Chained... so in the end we spent more time and money mixing that record than we did recording it. This time we spent more time recording and less time mixing. Chained... was also recorded almost a year before it came out, so that gave us over two years years to work on Burning Fortune. Having a permanent drummer in the lineup helped, too.
So you were working on Burning Fortune since Chained... was in the can?
Decay: Pretty much whenever we got a chance or an idea. We're always thinking of the next album. Some material sits around for a while before it's finished. Burning Fortune is barely out yet and we already have four or five song ideas for the next record.
Chains: I kind of recall jamming a lot of the riffs from Burning Fortune around the time that we were recording Chained.... They were just riffs back then and it took a while for them to develop.
That said, what were you going for here? It sounds like you had a solid plan for how this album would come out.
Chains: We just rehearsed the shit out of it until we knew exactly how it was supposed to sound. Most of the time in the studio was spent getting the right live take down, just the bed tracks where everyone played well.
Decay: We wanted this album to represent what we sound like live. We're a three-piece and we want to be able to pull these songs off live.
Even the song structures, riffs and solos feel assured without being cocky. What brings all this about?
Decay: Well, I think we always know what we would like to accomplish but we just don't always have the time and resources to do so. Things worked out pretty well this time around in our favour. Our drummer didn't get sucked up by a bigger band so we had a lot of touring, rehearsing and demoing with him prior to this recording. Again, because Chained To The Nite was recorded almost a year prior to its release we had a lot of time to prepare for this record.
In what ways do you feel this album maintains what you accomplished on Chained To The Nite?
Decay: I think its really just more of the same with an extended emphasis on songwriting and musicianship. We know what we sound like so our only goal has ever been to write the best songs we can and capture the best performance we can. Without cheating ourselves of course...no post-processing manipulation.
Do you notice any vast advances in your style/sound?
Decay: To me, no. That is up to others to decide. What I do has already been established as far as I'm concerned. My only goal beyond that is to write the best songs possible and perform them without technical manipulation.
Chains: Any one of these songs could have been on the last album and vice versa. But obviously we would have recorded them a hell of a lot better this time around.
Lyrically, you seem a bit less tongue-in-cheek. Is that true?
Decay: After hearing that term all these years, I still don't know what it means but I'll guess. We're real life. We are just fans of heavy metal that care more about the music we're fond of than anything else. Times, change, dates... fuck off. I think most of the lyrics are based on our real life situations.
Chains: I think it's because there isn't a song called "Chained Up In Chains" this time around. Still, that song is dead serious.
What's the reason for it?
Decay: Maybe we're getting too old, I don't know. But we are sincere and passionate about what we do and I would like people to know that. A lot of people seem to be preoccupied with what's going on around them today and can't just accept fuckin' good music for what it is.
Would you agree that the lyrical drive makes things feel more sinister here?
Decay: We're telling the truth. We're getting old and bitter, I guess. Music first.
Chains: On the last album we were, "Young and Hungry." I guess on this one we're, "Old and Fed?" The lyrics are slightly more sarcastic and darker on this album but I think that's just because they're more about real life and less about fiction.
Decay: Actually, we were young and hungry back in 2003. Now we're just old.
So the dark side comes from being bitter? About what?
Decay: About how music sucks. I guess we're just far too passionate to give it up.
Vocally, this is your most confident work to date.
Decay: Well, we all know I'm not the best singer but I try. First thing is we had more time in the studio this time around. We didn't have to rush the vocals as much. We also went back to an old producer from the Goat Horn days who understands us well, knows what we're going for and we set some clear goals with him.
The time frame portion is understandable but a producer can really have that much impact?
Chains: A lot of the vocals weren't even doubled this time around, which I think says a lot about his ability to get good takes. We had our ideas starting out, but he suggested a lot of stuff that we would never have considered such as different tunings for guitar parts and whatever weird effects he felt like using. On a couple of the tracks, you can hear him fucking around with a '60s tape delay. It was good to have that because Jason and I are usually just Flying V into Marshall purists.
In a previous interview, you stated that you wanted the first album to incite change against weak metal. Has it been working? Will this advance the cause?
Decay: Yes, I believe things have changed in our favour but its hard to say where it will go from here. All I know, is that my metal seems a little less contaminated these days. If you're going to change the formula, call it something else.
What's bringing on the "cleanse" in your mind? Is metal moving back underground? Are people less tolerant of false metal?
Chains: I think the kids who grew up on wiggerslam are beginning to realize what the difference is between that and heavy metal. Real heavy metal has been underground since '86 and always will be.
That said, what surprising influences rear up in Cauldron's music?
Chains: It's probably not surprising but we are fans of Canadian schlock pop like Gowan and Platinum Blonde. Actually if Jason's passed out drunk, the only way to get him up is by cranking "Situation Critical." Decay: We'll take influence from anywhere good but we know our sound and how to filter it. I'll rip anything from Journey to Autopsy. I don't give a ham.